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ICC World Cup: Australia to face South Africa in league stage match in Lucknow

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In ICC Cricket World Cup today, Australia will take on South Africa in their second match at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow. Australia has never played at Ekana Stadium, which was built six years ago. The South Africans played an ODI here against India last year.
 
Australia had lost its first match in the tournament by six wickets to India. While, South Africa broke a host of records on their way to an impressive 102-run triumph over Sri Lanka in their first appearance at the event. The battle between Australia’s fast bowlers and South Africa’s top-order will be pivotal to the outcome of the match. Both teams will be hoping to gain the upper hand with a strong performance in this area of the game. 
 
Australia played below themselves and lost convincingly. South Africa rose above expectations and won handsomely. The teams who will clash in Lucknow on Thursday couldn’t have had more contrasting starts to their men’s World Cup campaigns.

India deployed Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja in Chennai on Sunday, dismissed Australia for 199 and won by six wickets with 8.4 overs to spare. In Delhi on Friday, Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram scored centuries for South Africa, who beat Sri Lanka by 102 runs.

Thus more hangs on this particular fixture than on most games between these sides, which are never anything other than heavy with context and consequence. Win and the belief that better days are ahead will grow. Lose and watch concern leap – in the Aussies’ case that they could go at least a dozen years without winning another World Cup, in the South Africans’ that the dream of their first title might be deferred for the ninth time.

Logic says it’s too early to draw conclusions as big as those after two of the nine matches the teams’ will play before the knockout rounds. Maybe that’s true for other sides, but not these two. Australia, for all their wider republican ambitions, are as close to World Cup royalty as cricket gets having won the trophy five times in its 12 editions. South Africa are the game’s perennial flatterers only to deceive; contenders who are exposed as pretenders sooner or later. This really is princes versus paupers.

That South Africa have won 15 of their last 20 completed ODIs against Australia – a streak of success that runs from November 2014 – doesn’t matter much. The Aussies didn’t have their strongest combination in several of those games. In their series in South Africa last month, for instance, they were without Pat Cummins, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell. And, as no-one will need reminding, this is a World Cup.

The closer contest on Thursday could be between South Africa’s batters and Australia’s bowlers, albeit that opinion is based on the events of each team’s one match so far. That said, the same could apply conversely. Who doesn’t want to see a fractious batting line-up take on an attack and fielding side that didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory last time out?

It’s difficult to look past the notion that this is a contest between a team who are losing their footing on the global stage and a side who have found theirs just in time to stand tall at the same level. Thursday’s game might well reduce that idea to folly, but right now it’s as good an idea as any about the outcome of the latest episode in one of cricket’s most enduring rivalries.

Squads:

South Africa Squad: Quinton de Kock(w), Temba Bavuma(c), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada, Lizaad Williams, Reeza Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi

Australia Squad: David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey(w), Cameron Green, Pat Cummins(c), Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood, Sean Abbott, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, Josh Inglis

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